Last of the Mohicans, The

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A movie review by James Berardinelli



Last of the Mohicans, The

ACTION/AVENTURE:

United States, 1992

U.S. Release Date:

1992-09-25

Running Length:

1:54

MPAA Classification:

R (Violence)

Theatrical Aspect Ratio:

2.35:1

Cast:

Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Wes Studi, Russell Means, Jodhi May

Director:

Michael Mann

Screenplay:

Christopher Crowe, Michael Mann based on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper

Cinematography:

Dante Spinotti

Music:

Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman

U.S. Distributor:

20th Century Fox

Subtitles:

none


There is so little wrong with this film that I'll get the incidental negatives out of the way first. The introductory moments are somewhat confusing, and it takes about fifteen or twenty minutes to get the characters and situations straight. Madeleine Stowe's British accent is of the "now-you-hear-it, now-you-don't" variety, although her performance pretty much makes up for this inconsistency. Finally, the photography surrounding the waterfall is unconvincing. Other than that, The Last of the Mohicans is virtually flawless.

Cinematography and musical score combine in a breathtaking mosaic. Historical accuracy has been preserved (even if the movie takes liberties with James Fenimore Cooper's story). The battle scenes are easily the best choreographed since Glory -- there's so much going on that one viewing isn't enough to pick up on everything.

From beginning to end, there isn't a weak performance. As the bare-chested central character, a native-raised white man named Hawkeye, Daniel Day-Lewis shines, bringing acting acumen to the role of romantic adventure hero. Madeleine Stowe, Richard Dreyfuss' girlfriend in Stakeout, is equally appealing as Hawkeye's upper-class British love interest. The major characters are fully fleshed-out, and there's more audience empathy for the minor characters here than the protagonists in many other films. As is common in a realistic depiction of a war, very little is absolutely good or evil.

Finally, there's the story, which, while not all that complex, is of epic nature -- big, bold, and gloriously sweeping. It's about the love of Hawkeye, the adopted Mohican, and Cora, the daughter of a British commander stationed in America during the mid-1700s. War and tragedy swirl around them as they struggle to find their own kind of private solace. Bold and stirring with impeccable production values, The Last of the Mohicans is a memorable motion picture adventure, and one of the best films of the year.





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